TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whistleblowers: IRS Officials Behind ‘Fraudulent’ Multi-Billion Dollar Corporate Tax Giveaways

IRS Whistleblower (2014)Raw Story:  Whistleblowers: IRS Officials Behind ‘Fraudulent’ Multi-Billion Dollar Corporate Tax Giveaways:

A 10-year veteran IRS attorney has demanded a Congressional audit of the IRS to investigate the agency’s alleged role in allowing American corporations to illegally avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes at the same time the agency is cracking down on individuals and small businesses.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, IRS commissioner John A. Koskinen, and IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, Jane J. Kim, an attorney in the IRS Office of the Chief Counsel in New York, accused IRS executives of “deliberately” facilitating multi-billion dollar tax giveaways. The letter, dated October 19, will add further pressure on the agency, which is under fire for allegedly targeting conservative and Tea Party groups.

Kim, who has previously blown the whistle on “gross waste of government resources” in the IRS New York field offices [Senior IRS Lawyer Charges Chief Counsel's New York Office With Waste and Abuse], wrote in her new letter that senior IRS officials have “intentionally undermined the authority of the IRS Whistleblower Office” to avoid taking action “in cases involving billions in corporate taxes due.” The IRS also refuses to enforce laws for “large corporate taxpayers,” resulting in giveaways of further billions, despite applying the same laws with “draconian strictness to small business, the self-employed, and wage-earning individuals.”  ...

Following coverage of her earlier allegations by Pulitzer Prize winning tax journalist David Cay Johnston, Kim was approached by a private sector lawyer representing corporate whistleblowers to the IRS, who told her that numerous legitimate investigations into corporate tax fraud were being shut down. Her letter sent on Sunday to the US Treasury and IRS described three such cases. ...

Continue reading

October 23, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

TIGTA: IRS Fails to Follow TEFRA Procedures in 63% of Partnership Audits

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That Procedures Are Followed During Partnership Audits Subject to the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (2014-30-082):

This audit was initiated to determine whether audits of partnerships subject to the TEFRA are initiated in accordance with applicable statutory and administrative procedures. ... TIGTA reviewed a statistically valid sample of 35 partnership audits subject to the TEFRA that were closed during Fiscal Year 2012 and identified 22 audits that were not conducted in accordance with one or more applicable TEFRA procedures. Specifically, TIGTA found that: (1) minimum tests were not always documented to determine whether TEFRA procedures should have been used to examine the partnership return; (2) necessary checks were not always documented to ensure that the Tax Matters Partner was qualified to represent the partnership; (3) some Forms 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, did not contain the required information that allows disclosure of tax return information; and (4) some Letters 1787, Notice of Beginning of Administrative Proceeding, were not issued timely. When the sample results are projected to the population of 2,698 TEFRA audits closed during Fiscal Year 2012, TIGTA estimates that approximately 1,696 TEFRA audits were not conducted in accordance with one or more applicable TEFRA procedures.

Continue reading

October 23, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 532

IRS Logo 2Independent Journal Review:  Former Newsweek Editor Gives 4 Solid Reasons Why Women No Longer Feel Safe Under President Obama:

Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former Newsweek editor Tina Brown said women no longer feel safe under Obama’s leadership. She gave four areas in which she feels this is the case: ...

#4 – “What they feel unsafe about is the government response to different crises and I think that they’re beginning to feel a bit that Obama’s like that guy in the corner office who’s too cool for school: calls a meeting, says this has to change, doesn’t put anything in place to make sure it does change, then it goes wrong and he’s blaming everybody.”

Yes, he has been blaming others when things have gone wrong. In particular, he’s been blaming the women around him. Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Cheryl Campbell, Lois Lerner, and Kathleen Sebelius all come to mind as women who have taken the fall for Obama.

WND:  Tina Brown Scorches Obama on Live TV:

One of the top feminists in America blasted Barack Obama’s handling of numerous crises Monday, claiming the president is actually making women feel unsafe. During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Tina Brown, the founder and former editor of the Daily Beast and Newsweek as well as current head of Tina Brown Live Media, explained support for Democrats among women in recent polls has been plummeting because Obama is making women feel “unsafe.” ...

She continued, “More recently women felt unsafe when Lois Lerner wielded the IRS like a mighty weapon and targeted thousands of innocent civilians who were deemed ‘enemies’ of the Obama administration. No one has been held accountable and because of evidence that was ‘mysteriously’ destroyed, no one probably ever will. Women have seen innocent people punished and/or killed while criminals have been lauded.

Continue reading

October 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 531

IRS Logo 2Barrow Journal:  Losing Faith as Dysfunction Clouds Our Institutions:

We Americans seem to have lost faith in our major institutions. All around us we see dysfunction dominating the news. To wit: ...

The IRS openly, and without apology, targeted a small number of conservative groups for special scrutiny in what can only be seen as a political move designed to silence those organizations. When called in before Congress to testify, the IRS’ chief administrator smirked and dithered, basically flicking his middle finger to Congress. His agency is above the law, he seemed to be saying. The IRS has become the stereotypical ruthless tax collector. Adding a political agenda to that only makes that powerful agency more suspect. Unfortunately, nobody seems interested in reeling in the IRS and making sure it doesn’t become a gunslinger for either political party.

Continue reading

October 22, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Scorer on Florida Bar Exam Is IRS Agent

Florida International University Law School Press Release, FIU Law Student Earns Top Score on Florida Bar Exam:

MartiniFIU alumnus Alexander Martini has earned the highest score among more than 2,800 lawyers who took the Florida Bar Examination in July. ...

“I am absolutely honored and excited,” said Martini, 28, who studied law in the evening while he worked full-time as an Internal Revenue Service agent.

Martini, who was valedictorian of the evening class, was a member of the FIU Law Review, competed in the American Bar Association Section of Taxation Law Student Tax Challenge, took and passed his final Certified Public Accountant exam, [and] completed a master’s degree in taxation. ...

Martini is married to Melissa Aponte Martini, who is a recent graduate of Nova Southeastern University Law School’s evening program, and also took and passed the bar exam in July.

October 21, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

The IRS Scandal, Day 530

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial:  Defining Dismissal Down: The VA Gives Officials an Opening to Retire Before They’re Fired:

The common theme in the many failures of President Obama’s second term is government incompetence, and a corollary is lack of accountability. Both themes came together in the news late last week that the Veterans Affairs department can’t even successfully fire officials it wants to dismiss.

President Obama and Congress agreed this summer on a bill that made it easier for the VA to fire incompetent officials in return for $16 billion in additional spending to address long patient waiting lines caused by the agency’s incompetence. That looked like another case of government rewarding government failure, and now we learn that two officials targeted for dismissal as part of the VA investigation are retiring instead.

The law gave new secretary Robert McDonald the ability to fire immediately, but the VA says it gave the targeted employees a five-day period to respond so the dismissals would hold up in court. Two of the targets took the opening to retire, including Susan Taylor, the VA’s deputy chief procurement officer in Washington who was the subject of an inspector general report alleging years of misconduct for personal gain. Ms. Taylor declined to comment to a Journal query.

The VA retirees follow the example set by Lois Lerner, who retired from the IRS before she could be dismissed for her role in targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. They will all presumably suffer no reduction in federal retirement benefits.

Continue reading

October 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Is Not Complying With Homeland Security Laws on Information Security Management and Employee ID Cards

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released:

Federal Information Security Management Act Report for Fiscal Year 2014 (2014-20-090):

The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) was enacted to strengthen the security of information and systems within Federal Government agencies. The IRS collects and maintains a significant amount of personal and financial information on each taxpayer. As custodians of taxpayer information, the IRS has an obligation to protect the confidentiality of this sensitive information against unauthorized access or loss.

As part of the FISMA legislation, the Offices of Inspectors General are required to perform an annual independent evaluation of each Federal agency’s information security programs and practices. This report presents the results of TIGTA’s FISMA evaluation of the IRS for Fiscal Year 2014.

Based on this year’s FISMA evaluation, five of the 11 security program areas met the performance metrics specified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal Year 2014 Inspector General Federal Information Security Management Act Reporting Metrics. ... Four security program areas were not fully effective due to one or more program attributes that were not met. ... Two security program areas did not meet the level of performance specified due to the majority of the attributes not being met.

Progress Has Been Made; However, Significant Work Re mains to Achieve Full Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 1 (2014-20-069):

Issued in August 2004, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors, requires Federal agencies to issue identity credentials that meet the HSPD-12 standard and use them for gaining physical access to Federally controlled facilities and logical access to Federally controlled information systems.  Without full implementation of HSPD-12 compliant authentication, IRS facilities, networks, and information systems are at an increased risk of unauthorized access.

This audit was initiated to determine the IRS’s progress in implementing HSPD-12 requirements for accessing IRS facilities and information systems.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury has set a goal for its bureaus to achieve 100-percent HSPD-12 compliance by Fiscal Year 2015.  In Fiscal Year 2012, the Administration identified HSPD-12 as a Cross-Agency Priority initiative needed to improve the security of Federal data.

The majority of the IRS workforce (85%) has been issued HSPD-12 compliant Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards.  However, full implementation of PIV card electronic authentication for accessing IRS facilities is not scheduled until at least Fiscal Year 2018, and only if funding is available.  In addition, significant challenges remain in the area of implementing PIV card electronic authentication for accessing IRS networks and information systems.  These challenges include many legacy systems and technologies in use at the IRS that are incompatible with PIV cards, and limited HSPD-12 staffing and funding for resolving these conflicts.

October 20, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 529

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  UnFair: Exposing The IRS -- Does Not Make Strong Case Or Decent Documentary, by Peter C. Reilly:

[H]ere is my report on UnFair: Exposing the IRS.  I am reacting to both the film and the companion book, which pretty much cover the same ground in the same order. The bottom line is that Craig Bergman's argument does not make a lot of sense.

He discusses IRS abuses in the last several years and proposes that we repeal the income tax, abolish the IRS and enact the Fair Tax. A lmost all the abuses he discusses concern the qualification of organizations for exempt status. It turns out that the same issues exist under the Fair Tax.

The filmmaker I brought along did not think that it was much of a documentary. His biggest issue was that he was expecting an expose` and instead experienced a reiteration of a political and cultural platform. If this review is any indication, he is not alone in his judgement. ...

It is not an exaggeration to say that the film is seeking to make the case that the IRS is a criminal organization . The tip off is the clip of 1930s gangsters with guns. A significant portion of time is spent on Teapartygate. We get brief clips from news programs hearing from George Will, Governor Mike Huckabee, Congressman John Linder, and Bill O’Reilly among others. Craig Bergman, the narrator, then tells us that he put together a crew of talented filmakers to travel across America to talk one-on-one with those affected by the abuses. Craig starts at the Tea Party “Audit The IRS” rally, has an extensive treatment of Lois Lerner including her campaign against the Christian Coalition while working for the Federal Election Commission and moves on to an interview with Jim Jess of the Georgia Tea Party. There is a lot of network footage, most of it from Fox News. There is r eally nothing new in this part if you have been following the scandal. The treatment is entirely one sided. ...

Jonathan Schwartz did not think that UnFair cut it as a documentary. He did not even think that it was very effective propaganda.  It was more of a rally the troops type of piece that would only work on those who were already convinced of the viewpoints expressed.

Continue reading

October 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 528

IRS Logo 2The Hollywood Reporter:  'Unfair: Exposing the IRS': Film Review:

Delivering an attack against the Internal Revenue Service is like shooting fish in a barrel. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone, whatever their political affiliation, who has anything good to say about this much-reviled government agency. So it seems a bit of a waste that Judd Saul's documentary Unfair: Exposing the IRS, shown as a one-night event in some 680 screens around the country, should have resorted to such relentless overkill.

Before your angry online comments come pouring in accusing this reviewer of being a godless, unpatriotic communist, please be advised that this is a film review, not a political tract. Any criticisms to follow are meant to address the film on cinematic terms, and in that regard it falls woefully short of being convincing to anyone who isn't already fully aligned with its impassioned message. Devoid of thoughtful analysis or divergent opinions, it's little more than agitprop … which is not to say that many of the films emanating from the other side of the political spectrum are any better. ...

Beginning with the usual barrage of inflammatory news clips, it naturally spotlights the recent uproar over the IRS' alleged targeted persecution of Tea Party organizations — President Obama is repeatedly seen denouncing it as a "phony scandal" — and the subsequent embarrassing spectacle of its leaders haplessly testifying before Congress that they had somehow managed to lose over two years' worth of relevant emails. Couple that with evidence of the agency's wild overspending, such as video clips of their bizarre comic sketches performed at lavish getaways, and it's certainly hard not to get one's dander up. ...

Featuring commentary by such usual suspects as Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann and, of course, Grover Norquist, Unfair: Exposing the IRS is not so much an expose as predictable preaching to the choir.

Continue reading

October 19, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 527

IRS Logo 2American Center for Law and Justice: Finally: IRS Approves Two More Tea Party Groups:

It’s taken years, but IRS approvals are still slowly—very slowly—rolling in.

The ACLJ first sounded the alarm against the Obama Administration’s unlawful targeting of grassroots conservative groups in the spring of 2012. It was not until the following year, in May of 2013, when Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had in fact singled out and targeted hundreds of tea party and conservative groups. Shortly afterwards, the ACLJ filed suit against the IRS on behalf of 41 groups in 22 states.

Some of those groups are still being targeted and delayed, even today.

Yet we’re still winning victories, even while the case is ongoing.

Today, two more conservative groups received approval of their tax-exempt applications. Laurens County Tea Party of Laurens, South Carolina and Allen Area Patriots from Frisco, TX, both seeking 501(c)(4) status, were just approved.

Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.

Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.

While the mainstream media gave the Administration the benefit of the doubt and ignored, if not completely dismissed the targeting as nothing more sour grapes from angry conservatives, vindication of these groups has come time and time again as the public learns more information from Congressional investigators of how wide scale this scandal really was.

Continue reading

October 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 17, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 526

IRS Logo 2Statesman Journal:  Wehby Attempts to Tie Sen. Jeff Merkley to IRS Scandal:

Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby released a web video Thursday with the goal of tying Sen. Jeff Merkley to the scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service targeting tax-exempt groups for their political leanings.

The 35-second video entitled "Corrupt" explains that Merkley was one of several Democratic Senators who wrote a letter to the IRS in 2012 requesting the agency "immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as 'social welfare' organizations." ... The ad lays that targeting of conservative groups at Merkley's feet and asks whether voters can trust him.

Continue reading

October 17, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 525

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 524

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  President Obama, Audit Threats, And Rogue IRS Employees, by Robert W. Wood:

The fallout from the IRS targeting flap isn’t over. The key lost emails could be the result of bona fide, unanticipated, and irreversible computer crashes. Yet some still see finger-prints of a cover-up. It provides fodder for the online equivalent of jawing around the water-cooler. Either way, conservative groups are outraged.

More broadly, there is a general malaise about the IRS and our tax system. It is not enough for the IRS to do a good job of enforcing the tax laws in a fair and non-discriminatory way. As important, the IRS needs to be perceived as fair. If profiling is a dirty word, it should be equally dirty when the IRS does it. Truly, audit targeting is scary. ...

Don’t forget President Obama’s audit quip in 2009 in a commencement speech. The President joked about Arizona State University’s decision not to award him an honorary degree:

“I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.”

It was an innocent remark, but some pundits didn’t see any humor. Comedians joke about such things, not Presidents, especially not with the history this charged issue has had. It would only be a few years before the ‘rogue employees’ excuse could be used about IRS targeting. In the meantime, a clever remark can go a long way.

‘Gee, I thought you wanted me to ice that guy,’ a mafia button man might say. With plausible deniability, the don might get off scot free. Presumably, though, we can’t see what Ms. Lerner told her exempt organization subordinates in Cincinnati. If there were truly rogue employees, might they have misunderstood their mission and gotten overzealous?

Continue reading

October 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 523

IRS Logo 2Town Hall:  The White House Dogs, by Erick Erickson:

There are two dogs living in the White House other than the Obamas' pet dog. The first of the two dogs is the one that eats all the homework. It has been let loose across government agencies.

The Internal Revenue Service had an encounter with the dog. Lois Lerner, in charge of the division accused of harassing conservative groups, suddenly had her hard drive crash. All her emails were gone. Then six other employees mysteriously had their emails vanish. All seven were relevant to the congressional probe of the IRS.

The emails appear not to be on any servers. They do not seem to have been backed up, or the back ups were destroyed too. The emails have simply vanished. It is just awfully convenient that they were emails involved in a congressional probe.

Once the dog finished eating emails at the IRS, it moved over to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a request for certain emails and text messages from or to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. According to the Washington Times last Wednesday, the EPA now says thousands of text messages related to Ms. McCarthy have simply disappeared. Her emails too are gone. The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the EPA are involved in a lawsuit, making the disappearance of the emails even more serious.

Now it is not just congressional Republicans looking at disappearing data. A federal judge is involved, too. Congressional Republicans can be dismissed far more easily than a federal judge in a black robe with a gavel.

It seems the IRS and EPA are not the only government agencies visited by this hungry dog. The Securities and Exchange Commission has lost hundreds of computers with information on them that could be used for insider trading purposes. ...

That leads us to the other dog living in the Obama White House. In "Silver Blaze," a short story about Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a prized racehorse went missing the night before a major race. Holmes, investigating the disappearance and the related death of the horse's trainer, refers "to the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime." The curious incident was that the dog did not bark. The dog at the stables made no sound as the thief stole the horse because the dog knew the thief.

The Obama administration has not barked in these cases. Internal Revenue Service emails from employees under investigation by Congress have been deleted. The Obama administration's best guess is that there was just an unfortunate coincidence of timing with an obligatory reference to "partisan witch hunts." The same holds for the EPA and now the SEC.

The Obama administration has expressed little concern, mostly taking the opportunity to blame Republicans. Government data has been deleted, and no one in the White House seems concerned. The dog is not barking. ...

The matters on which the White House dogs are willing to bark and be quiet should direct the attention of an objective press. The silence on the IRS and EPA is very telling.

Continue reading

October 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 522

IRS Logo 2New York Observer:  Sex, Lies, and . . . White House Counsel; Ruemmler Blunders Into Secret Service Mess, by Sidney Powell:

Enter Kathryn Ruemmler, former White House Counsel, repeatedly discussed on the “short list” for Attorney General. ...

As we reported previously, not only was Ms. Ruemmler in the middle of the IRS email scandal, the Benghazi cover-up, and the most vigorous “protector” of a president while increasing government secrecy and violating the rights of others, the Post places her squarely in the middle of the cover-up of the Cartagena sex scandal for which the Secret Service and the military took the sole blame for having several prostitutes spend the night before the President arrived. ...

According to Mr. Obama, those involved in the “Hookergate” scandal were just “a couple of knuckleheads” in the Secret Service. Wait, that sounds familiar. Oh yes, the IRS targeting of conservative political groups was just “a couple of boneheads” in the Cincinnati office of the IRS, and there wasn’t a “smidgeon of corruption” in Mr. Obama’s IRS.

Anyone still buying that must have been comatose for the last several months, during which we learned of the ever increasing number of computer crashes, and that the IRS deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner’s blackberry—a fact the IRS tried to hide from federal judge Emmet G. Sullivan. These developments may have a role to play in Mr. Holder’s departure—the real reasons for which I believe are yet to surface.

Our entire government is imploding in deceit and dishonesty. The United States has become the laughingstock of the world, and the vacuum in leadership of this country is sucking the very air we breathe. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Mr. Obama golfs while ISIS beheads. Meanwhile, Kathryn Ruemmler’s on his short list for Attorney General.

There are reasons for his “trust” in her that are obvious to him, but she “ain’t no friend of mine.”

Continue reading

October 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 521

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Lois Lerner And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Robert W. Wood:

Lois Lerner–the former IRS official at the heart of Tea Party targeting–is retired from the IRS. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Yet after her long silence, her exclusive interview with Politico was anything but reticent and reserved. In it, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and considers herself  the victim.

Ms. Lerner bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of Tea Party a_holes, crazies. etc. Yet in a curious turn of events, journalist and Crapitalism author Jason Mattera showed up in her nice Bethesda neighborhood to pepper her with questions. They included such zingers as “Do you feel bad about turning the government into a weapon to crush political dissent?”

This time, Ms. Lerner wasn’t flanked by lawyers and facing softball questions at Politico. And who can blame her for not wanting to answer these questions. So she scurried to a neighbor’s house and started knocking on the door, begging to be admitted. Ms. Lerner’s day got worse when her neighbors seemed to, well, ‘Take the Fifth’ about letting her in. She  stood there on the porch, while Jason Mattera probes with barbs like, ‘it doesn’t feel good to be targeted does it?’

AlexanderOK, this may not be journalism’s finest hour, nor does it necessarily mean much that Ms. Lerner didn’t want to answer these questions. It may not even mean much that the neighbor has probably had enough, and didn’t want to be involved. That’s so no matter how much the neighbor may like Ms. Lerner, or her dogs for that matter.

I’m not saying that anyone wants to be hounded (excuse the pun), either. But being hounded and asked questions of this sort cannot be entirely unexpected and may not even be unfair, especially after Ms. Lerner’s exclusive interview with Politico. It all sounds a little like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, based on the book by Judith Viorst. Just like Lois Lerner’s day, from the moment Alexander wakes up, everything goes wrong. ...

Want even more terrible, horrible, no good items? How about those rogue employees in Cincinnati doing things they shouldn’t. I’ll bet all those missing emails would prove once and for all that those confused rogue Cincinnatians did all the targeting non-biased and careful review with no help from the boss. Too bad the hard drive is gone destroyed buried not available despite best efforts. Maybe Alexander had something. Maybe moving to Australia wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?

Continue reading

October 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 520

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Is IRS A Smidgen Corrupt? Ask Lois Lerner, NetJets, Buffett & 150 Million Taxpayers, by Robert W. Wood:

[A]ny dealings with the IRS today may be more unsettling than in the past because many have less confidence today that the system is fair and impartial. It is hard to overstate how important this is. Some of it comes back to the last 18 month who’s-on-first routine on display from the IRS.

Lois Lerner wouldn’t talk to Congress, although she is collecting a nice pension. Despite being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, she hasn’t been prosecuted. Maybe her refusal is constitutionally protected, maybe not. Yet after her long silence, in an exclusive interview with Politico, Ms. Lerner said she did nothing wrong and she considers herself the victim.

She bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts to avoid being traced, letting her own liberal views influence her treatment of tea party a_holes, etc. It isn’t only Ms. Lerner who comes off as above the law. IRS Commissioner Koskinen did his share of testifying about the email mess. Sadly, he somehow managed to seem arrogant, uninformed, and perhaps even a tad dismissive that his organization had any explaining to do.

The IRS and its thousands of dedicated employees deserve far better. Yet given the IRS’s current image problem, might some taxpayers feel justified in cheating on their taxes? I hope not, but I’ll bet some might think of this. Some of the public may not be able to get past the apparent stonewalling. Some of the public may wonder if they would get a pass from the IRS if their hard drive ate their tax records.

Some taxpayers may go beyond fudging their taxes and take their distrust to the courts. It already happened with True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS. But you can’t win without evidence. See Judge sides with IRS in search for Lerner emails. More suits could be impacted too. As noted in The Lois Lerner App, NetJets has asserted that the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing e-mails and other electronic documents that the government was required to produce.” ...

Will some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? I hope not, but some might justify it to themselves. When thousands of emails go missing from the key time period? And, when no one said anything about the emails being missing until one year into a federal investigation? Might some taxpayers cheat after seeing this kind of behavior? ...

Whatever one’s political views, politics are not supposed to matter to the IRS. Taxes and tax administration can’t be even remotely based on politics. We all need to believe that, and more generally, in the fairness of the system. One’s tolerance for coincidence should not have to be work overtime to be convinced.

Continue reading

October 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 10, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 519

IRS Logo 2New York Sun:  Department of Injustice, by Conrad Black:

This brings us to the excruciating and horrifying saga of the Internal Revenue Service. It is clear, despite an administration effort to muddy the waters and strangle the congressional investigation, that the president and his party’s leaders in Congress launched a Herculean effort to bully the IRS to silence conservative organizations critical of the administration, and that the IRS, led by the head of the tax-exempt-organizations section, Lois Lerner, did its best to comply with this request. The extent of the collusion has been made difficult to fix with precision because Ms. Lerner’s hard drive disappeared and she has declined to answer congressional questions, exercising her right to avoid self-incrimination.

No one believes that her e-mails vanished accidentally, but let us note the contrast between the complacency with which the Democratic national media have assimilated this news with the hysteria that followed the revelation that Rose Mary Woods, Richard Nixon’s assistant, had lost only 18 minutes of a Watergate tape. Because of synchronized IRS non-cooperation and the likely destruction of evidence, it is hard to be sure of the extent of the contact between Democratic eminences and the national tax collector, but the existence of many meetings and e-mail exchanges has been established. (Senator Schumer had publicly urged the IRS to crack down on the “extraordinary influence” of the Tea Party and other Republican groups.) Ms. Lerner eventually took leave from her position and was accused of contempt of Congress. It is hard not to be contemptuous of the Congress, but that does not excuse refusal to answer amid the heavy suspicion of destruction of evidence.

President Obama installed John Koskinen, a “turn-around” expert from Fannie Mae, to clean up the IRS. But he has construed his role to be the obstruction of the congressional investigation, in appearances that were sanctimonious filibusters to explain the IRS’s conduct by standing on what he fancies to be his dignity and fuming with righteousness when the committee members suggested that he is not cooperating (which, of course, he isn’t). The administration’s own investigation has been a slapstick farce, largely led by Ms. Lerner’s chief associate in persecuting Republican political organizations, Jack Smith, now head of the public-integrity unit of the Justice Department. The administration is determined to kill the whole investigation, and there is little doubt that a thorough airing of the matter would show the conduct of much of the senior levels of the administration to be, to say the least, discreditable.

Continue reading

October 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 518

IRS Logo 2Bloomberg BNA, U.S. Sidesteps NetJets' Accusations It Destroyed E-Mail Evidence in $643 Million Tax Case, by Marc Heller:

The Justice Department avoided addressing accusations from fractional aircraft ownership company NetJets that the IRS destroyed e-mail evidence sought as part of a fight over $643 million in taxes in an Oct. 6 reply brief.

NetJets had argued in a Sept. 29 motion before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that the Internal Revenue Service was “reckless” in its destruction of hard drives that contained information being sought by the company and in violation of an order from a magistrate judge. NetJets said the proper sanctions against the government would be to deny DOJ's motion for summary judgment.

DOJ, however, dodged the issue of evidence and argued in its reply brief that changing Federal Aviation Administration regulations can't give NetJets a pass on paying federal transportation taxes on its fractional aircraft program.

Continue reading

October 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 517

IRS Logo 2Washington Post (The Volokh Conspiracy):  Lawsuit Based on Alleged Government Targeting of Tea Party Group Organizer Can Go Forward, by Eugene Volokh (UCLA):

From Zherka v. Ryan, 2014 WL 4928956 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2014):

Plaintiff Selim Zherka filed this … action claiming that employees of the Internal Revenue Service hindered his application for tax exempt status and initiated an investigation against him as part of a broader effort to penalize members of the Tea Party for their political activities….

Beginning in 2009, plaintiff published newspaper articles and held rallies criticizing government officials for political corruption and “confiscatory tax policies.” Plaintiff organized and supported the creation of the Tea Party, a political party that received extensive publicity in the news media. At some point, plaintiff sought tax-exempt status for an organization he and others used primarily for educational purposes. However, plaintiff claims that defendant Lois Lerner …, an IRS employee, subjected his application to an inordinately high level of scrutiny, forcing him to abandon his efforts to obtain tax-exempt status. [The case against Lois Lerner was dismissed because “Plaintiff has not satisfied its burden of showing that [he] served defendant Lerner with a copy of the summons and complaint.” — EV]

Plaintiff alleges that in 2011, agent Ryan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation … and agent Ashcroft … of the IRS began an investigation into his commercial real estate dealings. Plaintiff claims these defendants issued over 75 subpoenas to his business associates, threatening them with criminal prosecution should they withhold information incriminating plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that as a result, many of these business associates terminated their relationship with him out of a fear of “running asunder of federal agencies.” He asserts that defendants’ conduct was part of a broader government strategy to penalize Tea Party members for their political speech.

Plaintiff claims to have lost business as a result of the ongoing investigation. Moreover, he claims that defendants’ actions have chilled his political activities, damaged his reputation, and caused emotional injuries….

Plaintiff alleges First Amendment retaliation …. To state a claim for First Amendment retaliation, a plaintiff must show: (1) that the speech or conduct at issue was protected, (2) that the defendant took adverse action against the plaintiff, and (3) that there was a causal connection between the protected speech and the adverse action.” …

[P]laintiff alleges that defendants intentionally targeted him for investigation because of his active membership in a new political party. The First Amended Complaint indicates that defendants initiated their broad investigation solely against plaintiff because of his political efforts, and did not pursue similar investigations against apolitical businesses and taxpayers. Plaintiff’s activities centered on advocating for a reduction in local, state, and federal tax levies. Plaintiff claims that as a result of his political activities, defendants issued over 75 subpoenas to his business associates, and contacted dozens of them individually in a search for incriminating information. Defendants’ alleged conduct appears to have significantly damaged plaintiff’s business prospects and “curtailed his public advocacy.”

Plaintiff has made a plausible showing on his First Amendment and equal protection claims. His speech, which is directed at reforming government spending, is clearly protected. He has alleged facts showing that defendants targeted him for a wide-ranging investigation because of this speech, and that he was treated differently than other taxpayers and businessmen who did not espouse anti-taxation beliefs. Thus, plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for relief on his First Amendment [claim] ….

Plaintiff [also] alleges that defendants’ conduct is so shocking as to amount to a violation of his substantive due process rights…. Only “the most egregious official conduct” meets this threshold.

The question of whether conduct is shocking in a constitutional sense is highly context specific. ...

Here, plaintiff alleges that he has been subjected to more than two years of investigation by defendants. He claims that defendants have threatened his business associates with criminal prosecution in order to secure their cooperation in the investigation. Moreover, he claims that defendants have inquired into his political activities and political affiliations, demonstrating a motivation to retaliate against him for his political speech. Plaintiff claims that defendants’ conduct has severely damaged his reputation and harmed his business relationships.

These allegations are disturbing and sufficiently shocking to allow plaintiff’s claim to go forward. While defendants did not subject plaintiff to forced-stomach pumping or other physical deprivations, they have allegedly investigated him for nearly two years based solely on his political message. Defendants’ alleged conduct appears to have jeopardized many if not most of plaintiff’s business relationships, causing him dramatic and permanent harm. Given plaintiff’s low burden at this stage in the litigation, he has alleged facts egregious enough to shock the conscience in a constitutional sense….

Continue reading

October 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 516

IRS Logo 2Power Line:  Is Another Obama Administration Scandal About to Explode:

While strong cases can be made for both Benghazi and Fast and Furious, most voters consider Barack Obama’s misuse of the IRS to be his administration’s worst scandal so far. But, as we wrote last year, targeting of conservative non-profits for harassment is not the only dimension of the IRS scandal. In addition, there is strong reason to believe that one or more White House political appointees have illegally accessed private taxpayer information and used it for political gain. 

Austan Goolsbee directed Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and later chaired his Council of Economic Advisers. In August 2010, Goolsbee conducted a telephone press briefing in which, according to the Washington Post, he purported to reveal confidential taxpayer information:

So in this country we have partnerships, we have S corps, we have LLCs, we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms, you know Koch Industries is a multibillion dollar businesses. So that creates a narrower base because we’ve literally got something like 50 percent of the business income in the U.S. is going to businesses that don’t pay any corporate income tax.

There are three possibilities here: either Goolsbee just made up the claim that Koch Industries doesn’t pay corporate income taxes; or he learned Koch’s tax status from some proper, legal source; or else he illegally accessed Koch’s tax returns and used the information he learned for political purposes in a call with reporters. ...

The wheels of justice, as they say, grind slowly. As with other Obama administration scandals, Barack’s effort is to run out the clock. It may be that by the time we learn the full extent of the Obama administration’s lawlessness, the administration will be over. But the remaining options are not good: either Austan Goolsbee, a senior adviser to Obama, made up a smear of Koch Industries out of whole cloth, or else Obama’s IRS allowed the White House illegal access to confidential taxpayer data for political purposes. That’s a crime for which at least two people should go to jail.

[I]t is likely that members of the Obama administration committed federal crimes by illegally sharing confidential taxpayer information with the White House for political purposes. With luck, we will find out for sure before our next president is inaugurated. The alternative is that a high-ranking White House official fabricated a baseless smear against the administration’s political opponents and passed it on to reporters to further the administration’s political agenda. Any way you look at it, this is a shameful episode in the already bleak history of the Obama administration.

Forbes, TIGTA Must Disclose More About Investigation Of Possible IRS Release Of Koch Industries Return Information, by Peter J. Reilly:

TIGTA has publicly acknowledged that it investigated whether Mr. Goosbee’s statement was based on improper disclosure by the IRS. There seems to be a good chance that it was a pretty easy investigation seeing as how it is extremely likely that Goosbee was flat out wrong in his speculation that KI was an S corporation. Taking that as the scenario, how can TIGTA then explain the results of the investigation without disclosing the very thing that was not supposed to be disclosed? Koch Industries’s status as either a C or an S Corporation.

Cause of Action still argued that TIGTA needed to be more forthcoming not only about its investigation of the Goosbee matter but also whether any of its other investigations of improper disclosure involve the White House. Mr. Epstein indicated that you might be able to connect the dots to the Tea Party scandal, if you could find out whether TIGTA is investigating breaches of taxpayer confidentiality involving the White House and applications for not for profit status. Using the very statute that is meant to protect taxpayers against breaches of confidentiality to protect the breachers does appeal to my inner villain as a masterful stroke, so I think Cause of Action has a point.

More important than my opinion is that of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who was nominated by President Obama to serve on United States District Court for the District of Columbia, shortly before Mr. Goosbee’s unfortunate remark. Judge Jackson ruled that TIGTA should disclose more:

The Court finds that the fact of the existence of any records within the category of records that plaintiff seeks is not confidential “return information” under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, and so defendant’s Glomar response is not supported by FOIA Exemption 3. Furthermore, although the existence of some records might be a fact protected by FOIA Exemption 7(C), the Court finds that defendant has waived reliance on both Exemption 7(C) and Exemption 6 by officially acknowledging its investigation into questions raised by the public statements of a particular administration official, and by failing to offer any other basis that would support a Glomar response on those grounds. Therefore, defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be denied, and plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment will be granted. The Court will remand the case to the agency for further action consistent with this opinion. A separate order will issue.

Continue reading

October 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 515

IRS Logo 2Red State:  IRS Cover-Up: IG Report Exposes IRS Lying to American Public, by Matthew Clark:

A new Inspector General (IG) report general report exposes yet more abuse and cover-up at the IRS. As the Washington Examiner reports:

A review of the Internal Revenue Service’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act found the agency intentionally withheld or failed to “adequately search” for requested information in hundreds of cases.

In others, the IRS released more than it was authorized, dispensing “sensitive taxpayer information,” including individuals’ bank records.

Many of the FOIA requests centered around, you guessed it, the IRS targeting scandal.

The cover-up is stunning.  “The IRS concealed information it should have released in response to an estimated 336 requests in 2013, according to the report.”

In response to a report (from the same IG’s office) detailing the IRS targeting scandal, the American public demanded to know the truth.  The American people sent in numerous FOIA requests, and the IRS concealed pertinent information at least 336 times.

If that’s not a cover-up I don’t know what is.

Continue reading

October 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 514

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial:  The Lois Lerner App:

Imagine if you downloaded something that ended up wiping out all the information you needed before meeting with an IRS agent asking about discrepancies on your tax return. How sympathetic do you think that IRS agent would be?

But when it comes to the IRS itself, this is just what officials would have us believe. Turns out too it’s not just Lois Lerner, whose computer crashed right after Congress asked for info about the tax targeting of conservative organizations.

Now we’re learning of another case where hard drives holding information that would help tell us what the IRS was up to have gone missing in the midst of a contentious lawsuit. That’s precisely the allegation NetJets, a private jet company, is now making in federal court. ...

The Columbus Dispatch reports NetJets has filed a motion with US District Court Judge Edmund Sargus Jr., claiming the IRS has “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing e-mails and other electronic documents that the government was required to produce” in the company’s lawsuit against the agency.

Maybe the answer here isn’t a federal lawsuit but a computer-repair firm that can debug every computer in the IRS of all that Lois Lerner malware.

Taxable Talk:  One Good Erasure Deserves Another, by Russ Fox:

I wonder if this sounds familiar to anyone: An organization is looking for key information stored on IRS computers. A lawsuit ensues, and the hard drives were allegedly wiped clean.

No, I’m not talking about the IRS Scandal, Lois Lerner, and the Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. Rather, I’m talking about a tax fight between NetJets and the IRS. NetJets sued the IRS for $643 million alleging, according to the Columbus Dispatch, that a ticket tax was misapplied. The IRS countersued for $366 million, alleging that NetJets hasn’t paid all their taxes. Both sides have petitioned for summary judgement. ...

Most of the time, I wouldn’t believe that the IRS would do this. As of 18 months ago, I wouldn’t believe that the IRS would lie to Congress, would target conservative applicants for nonprofit status, and that the hard drive of any computer (or other electronic device) touched by Lois Lerner would be magically erased.

On a serious note, the fact that the IRS has done these things (even if it’s just a coincidence that the hard drive of any computer Ms. Lerner touched died) will make judges highly skeptical of the IRS. I have no idea who is right on the NetJets vs. IRS fight. I do know that the IRS’s position sure sounds fishy to me.

Continue reading

October 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 513

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  The New Bureaucratic Brazenness: Official Arrogance Is the Source of Public Cynicism, by Peggy Noonan:

We’re all used to a certain amount of doublespeak and bureaucratese in government hearings. That’s as old as forever. But in the past year of listening to testimony from government officials, there is something different about the boredom and indifference with which government testifiers skirt, dodge and withhold the truth. They don’t seem furtive or defensive; they are not in the least afraid. They speak always with a certain carefulness—they are lawyered up—but they have no evident fear of looking evasive. They really don’t care what you think of them. They’re running the show and if you don’t like it, too bad.

And all this is a new bureaucratic style on the national level. During Watergate those hauled in and grilled by Congress were nervous. In Iran-Contra, Ollie North was in turn stoic, defiant and unafraid to make an appeal to the public. But commissioners and department heads now—they really think they’re in charge. They don’t bother to fake anxiety about public opinion. They care only about personal legal exposure. They do not fear public wrath.

All this became apparent in the past year’s IRS hearings, and was pronounced in Tuesday’s Secret Service hearings. ...

Sometimes it looks as if everyone in public life is in showbiz, only showbiz with impermeable employee protections. Lois Lerner of IRS fame planted the question, told the lie, took the Fifth, lost the emails and stonewalled. Her punishment for all this was a $100,000-a-year pension for the rest of her life. Imagine how frightened she was. I wonder what the Secret Service head’s pension will be?

A nation can’t continue to be vibrant and healthy when the government controls more and more, and yet no one trusts a thing the government says. It’s hard to keep going that way.

Continue reading

October 4, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 512

IRS Logo 2The Blaze:  Not Just Lois Lerner? Multi-Million Tax Suit Claims IRS ‘Wiped Clean’ Email Evidence in Separate Case:

An Ohio-based private jet company entangled in a multi-million dollar lawsuit with the Internal Revenue Service filed a motion this week asserting the tax agency is missing emails from three separate employees that would be evidence in the case, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The court motion and the federal case are unrelated to the IRS targeting scandal. Nevertheless, it comes after extensive congressional inquiries in Washington over missing emails from Lois Lerner, the former head of IRS tax-exempt organizations unit, who last year admitted to giving extra scrutiny to conservative groups applying for exempt status.

The IRS said the subpoenaed Lerner emails were destroyed in a hard drive crash. The agency later admitted that other emails related to the targeting were missing.

The jet company, NetJets, asserts that the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing emails and other electronic documents that the government was required to produce,” according to the motion filed with U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr., the Dispatch reported.

Continue reading

October 3, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 511

IRS Logo 2National Review:  IRS Erased Key Records in Lawsuit, NetJets Says, by John Fund:

There may be a pattern involving the IRS losing e-mails and other key computer records. For months, the House Oversight Committee has been pursuing the lost e-mails of Lois Lerner and other figures in the IRS tax-exempt organization scandal. 

Now, the private-jet company NetJets is claiming in a lawsuit that as part of its tax dispute with the agency the IRS “wiped clean a number of computer hard drives containing emails and other electronic documents that the Government was required to produce.”

Washington Free Beacon:  Court: Obama Admin Can’t Hide Investigation into Former White House Adviser; Austan Goolsbee Suspected of Illegally Revealing Koch Tax Details to Press:

The Obama administration must acknowledge the existence of an independent investigation into former White House senior economics adviser Austan Goolsbee’s alleged unauthorized access to the Koch brother’s tax returns, a court ruled Tuesday.

A federal judge ruled the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) must disclose to watchdog group Cause of Action whether records of an investigation exist.

Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit after TIGTA refused to confirm or deny the existence of the investigation in what is commonly known as a “Glomar response.”

“The court has ruled that the federal government cannot hide behind confidentiality laws to prevent Americans from knowing if our President has gained unauthorized access to their tax information,” Cause of Action executive director Dan Epstein said in a statement Tuesday. “This is a decisive win for all Americans and for government transparency and accountability.”

Former White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Austan Goolsbee sparked a mini-scandal in 2010 when he told reporters during a background press briefing that Koch Industries—the company of libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch—paid no income taxes.

Conservative lawmakers and activists said Goolsbee’s statements not only unfairly singled out the president’s political opponents but also used confidential IRS documents to do so.

Continue reading

October 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 510

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  After Holder: Four Things The Next Attorney General Must Address, by Dan Epstein (Executive Director, Cause of Action):

Attorney General Eric Holder may be heading for the exit door at the Department of Justice (DOJ), but numerous gaps in the agency’s enforcement remain. Will the next attorney general address fraud, transparency, and oversight concerns? We recommend four issues the next attorney general can and should resolve. ...

IRS Political Targeting: Americans have known for over a year about the Internal Revenue Service’s political targeting of non-profit groups. Cause of Action first petitioned DOJ to look into this scandal in May 2013. While an investigation has begun, the DOJ assigned an attorney from the Civil Rights Division (CRD), which mostly prosecutes hate crimes cases and conspiracies to violate civil rights, to investigate the IRS. If criminal violations are uncovered in the investigation, the CRD may not have the authority to handle them, given its jurisdiction. That is why the next attorney general should appoint a special counsel to direct the investigation.

Lois Lerner’s Emails: Perhaps the most confounding part of the IRS scandal is the somehow “lost” emails of Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the heart of the scandal. Cause of Action’s investigation indicates that in losing this valuable information, multiple government officials violated the Federal Records Act, which instructs agencies to create their own regulations regarding document retention. IRS regulations, for instance, required Ms. Lerner to print and file her emails and her attachments. By failing to preserve Lerner’s records, the IRS may have violated its own regulations — and therefore the Federal Records Act.

To this day, the Department of Justice refuses to investigate this potential violation of law, so we urge the next attorney general to conduct an investigation to determine if there has been a violation of the Federal Records Act.

Continue reading

October 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Days 401-500

IRS Logo 2

October 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Days 301-400

IRS Logo 2

October 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Days 201-300

IRS Logo 2

October 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Days 101-200

IRS Logo 2

October 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Days 1-100

IRS Logo 2

October 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Does Not Adequately Research 57% of Cases, Losing Billions in Taxes Wrongly Labeled Uncollectible

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Delinquent Taxes May Not Be Collected Because Required Research Was Not Always Completed Prior to Closing Some Cases As Currently Not Collectible (2014-30-052):

If an IRS employee is unable to contact or unable to locate (UTC/UTL) a delinquent taxpayer, the collection case may be closed as currently not collectible (CNC). If all of the required research steps are not taken prior to the case closure, there is a risk that the Government’s interest may not be protected and that taxpayers will not be treated equitably.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the IRS closed 482,611 tax modules involving approximately $6.7 billion as CNC–UTC/UTL.  This audit was initiated to determine whether these cases were adequately researched, documented, and approved to ensure that all actions were taken to collect outstanding taxpayer liabilities.

Required case actions were not always completed before closing cases as CNC–UTC/UTL.  Of a stratified sample of 250 cases reviewed, there was no evidence that employees completed all of the required research steps for 57 percent of the cases prior to their closing.  Moreover, 7 percent of the cases did not have a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) filed on all delinquent tax periods as required. Collection Field function (Field) employees did not complete all research in 165 of the 204 Field cases, while Automated Collection System function employees did not complete all research in eight of the 38 Automated Collection System cases

Continue reading

September 30, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

The IRS Scandal, Day 509

IRS Logo 2Christian Post:  Documentary Highlights First-Hand Accounts of IRS Targeting Conservative, Christian Groups:

A documentary set to be released in October aims to show the American public exactly how the IRS is unfairly treating certain groups by sharing first-hand experiences from those "oppressed" by the IRS.

Bothered by the reports that the IRS was targeting conservative activist groups, Craig Bergman, a former Gulf War veteran and syndicated conservative talk show host, traveled across America to get to the bottom of how the IRS was targeting these groups.

In his travels, Bergam interviewed various leaders of conservative activist groups, religious groups, veterans associations, international adoption parents and other groups. His interviewees detailed on camera how the IRS either forced them to fill out "intrusive" paperwork while filing for tax exempt status, or stalled the paperwork, making it difficult for the groups to grow in size.

The documentary, "UnFair: Exposing the IRS," was screened this past weekend at the Values Voters Summit in Washington D.C. and will premiere on Oct. 14 at over 700 theaters nationwide. The documentary uses the first-hand experiences to transition into a call to action to help abolish the IRS and the income tax and promote the Fair Tax, which would be similar to a national sales tax.

USA Today op-ed:  For Next Attorney General, Reach Across Aisle, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee):

Perhaps President Obama — and, for that matter, future presidents — should take a lesson from the way we handle the Department of Defense, and apply it to the Department of Justice: Consider naming someone outside his own party as attorney general.

This frequently happens with secretaries of Defense, and it has been of benefit to the administrations that have done it. FDR picked a Republican, Henry Stimson, to be secretary of War in 1940, and that meant that the war — and the war's casualties — became a bipartisan matter instead of fodder for partisan attacks. President Obama retained George W. Bush's Defense secretary, Robert Gates, for most of his first term. He replaced Gates with another Republican, Chuck Hagel, in that position.

Having a Defense secretary from the other party makes war bipartisan, and reassures members of the opposition that the powers of the sword aren't being abused. Likewise, naming an attorney general from the opposite party would tend to make the administration of justice bipartisan, and would provide considerable reassurance, as Holder's tenure in office emphatically did not, that the powers of law enforcement were not being abused in service of partisan ends. In an age of all-encompassing criminal laws, and pervasive government spying, that's a big deal.

Continue reading

September 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Penalty for Opting Out of the Affordable Care Act Is Large ($12,240) and Growing

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  Penalty for Not Having Health Coverage Can Be Thousands of Dollars; The ACA Penalty Can Top $12,000 for a High-Income Family of Five, by Laura Saunders:

ObamaCareIf you're opting out of the health-care coverage required by the Affordable Care Act, make sure you understand how much you'll owe Uncle Sam as a result.

For a family of five, the penalty could be as high as $12,240 for the 2014 tax year, experts say. And for many people, the penalty will rise sharply in 2015 and 2016.

The massive health-care changes passed in 2010 are phasing in, and this is the first year most Americans must have approved health insurance. Those who don't will owe a penalty under the Individual Shared Responsibility Provision. It's due with your income taxes, payable by April 15, 2015.

While most people will probably obtain qualified health coverage through an employer or an exchange, there will be others who owe the penalty. Eddie Adkins, a health-care and benefits specialist at Grant Thornton in Washington, says this group will likely include affluent and wealthy people who want to self-insure or use a so-called nonconforming policy that doesn't meet Affordable Care Act standards.

Then there are the "young invincibles": healthy young adults, typically in their late 20s or early 30s, who will get little or no tax credit to reduce their premiums. Many would rather spend the cost of health coverage, which can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars a year, on something else, such as paying off college loans.

For those who are thinking of opting out, here's what you need to know.

Continue reading

September 29, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

The IRS Scandal, Day 508

IRS Logo 2New York Observer:  Eric Holder Runs from a Ticking Time Bomb: IRS Deadline Approaches Fast, Federal Judges are Furious—and Where’s Andrew Selka?, by Sidney Powell:

The surprise resignation of Eric Holder, the first Attorney General ever to be held in contempt of Congress, exploded in the news today. Holder has been under unrelenting assault for the most egregious politicization and abuse of power in the Department of Justice in history—exceeding that of John Mitchell and Alberto Gonzalez. He has made the Department of Obstructing Justice notorious. Federal judges are stepping in to end his stone walling of Congressional and other investigations on several fronts, and now he’s on the run.

Why now? What is about to blow up? ...

Mr. Holder is about to run out of stalling time on the cover-up in the IRS scandal. He has come under increasingly serious fire for refusing to appoint a real special prosecutor to investigate what the Inspector General of the Treasury has already determined to be improper targeting of conservative groups by IRS officials including Lois Lerner. That bomb could detonate any day now.

The IRS has stonewalled production of the relevant documents, suffered astonishing computer crashes, deliberately destroyed Lois Lerner’s Blackberry with no effort to retrieve the “missing” emails from it, and been deceitful and obstructionist in the lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch to obtain documents that would reveal the target selection process and how high up in the White House the knowledge or direction of it can be traced.

Judicial Watch recently requested additional discovery. Judge Emmet Sullivan, the federal judge in the District of Columbia, has just given the IRS until October 17 to file its response to that motion. Judge Sullivan has the power to appoint—and has previously—appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Department of Justice. ...

Mr. Holder tasked Barbara Bosserman, a Civil Rights Division attorney, with the Department’s own purported investigation of the IRS abuses. Congress later learned that she had made substantial contributions to the President’s campaign and renewed its demand for Mr. Holder to name a special prosecutor.

As more of the IRS emails have come to light, they have revealed that Mr. Holder allowed a Justice Department lawyer, Andrew Strelka, to represent the IRS in opposing the lawsuit by Z Street—a group allegedly targeted for abusive treatment by the IRS because of its support for Israel. Mr. Strelka used to work with Lois Lerner, engaged in the political targeting himself, and maintained his close relationship with Ms. Lerner after he joined the Justice Department. Congressmen Issa’s and Jordan’s letter of August 25 to the Attorney General revealed that Mr. Strelka was privy to internal communications of the Exempt Office of the IRS long after he left that office. He was even advised immediately of the crash of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive—unlike Congress or any federal judge.

The letter notes: “Curiously, before his withdrawal from the case [forced by a story reporting this conflict], Strelka also completed a detail to the White House Counsel’s Office from December 2013 to June 2014—during which time the White House learned of Lois Lerner’s destroyed emails.”

The Congressional Committee on Government Oversight and Reform has intensified its inquiry into the Department’s conduct. The Congressmen told the Attorney General that their Committee staff should be contacted to arrange transcribed interviews of Mr. Strelka and Ms. Siegel by September 8. Mr. Strelka quickly and quietly left the Department. By September 5, the Department was stonewalling and refusing to assist the Committee in locating Mr. Strelka—who seems to be as missing as the IRS emails. As the Hill has reported, Rep. Jordan complains that the Justice Department “has declined to give Strelka’s contact information to the Oversight Committee and has reprimanded the panel for trying to get in touch with him directly.” Is this an out-take from House of Cards?

Congress also wants to talk to Nicole Siegel, a Department lawyer in the Office of Legislative Affairs. Turns out she also worked for Lois Lerner, shared Ms. Lerner’s views, and kept in touch. Hardly the disinterested person one should have in the Department office that responds to congressional inquiries on the IRS’s target selection.

Then there was the extraordinary accidental or mistaken call to Congressman Issa’s office by the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs. The call was intended for Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking minority member of the Oversight Committee, and sought to coordinate a leak of selected Committee documents to selected reporters so the Department could comment on them. The subject of the conversation and documents? None other than Andrew Strelka—regarding his representation of IRS Commissioner Koskinen in the Z-Street case. Meanwhile, other emails reveal extensive communications between Rep. Cummings’ staff and the IRS — referred to as an “executive branch agency” — in 2012 and 2013 regarding conservative group True the Vote.

As of September 12, the Department was still obstructing efforts to locate Mr. Strelka. Meanwhile, the Department’s own Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI and other components of the Department of Justice “have refused our requests for various types of documents. As a result, a number of our reviews have been significantly impeded.” Mr. Horwitz had already joined an unprecedented letter signed by 47 Inspector Generals for various agencies expressing serious concern that their jobs were being undermined and obstructed by multiple agencies of this presidency, including the Department of Justice.

Mr. Strelka can’t hide forever. Judge Bates is fed up with Department’s delays and ordered the list of documents Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama have been hiding for years now on their Fast and Furious scheme. Soon, Judge Sullivan could appoint a special prosecutor or demand production of the back-up server’s emails, or give Judicial Watch additional discovery after October 17.

One thing is for certain. Mr. Holder didn’t just wake up today and decide he wanted to go fishing. There are truths underlying this resignation that will be shocking when they surface. Mr. Holder will no longer have the shield of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to protect him from congressional, grand jury, or other subpoenas. The next question is: Which criminal lawyer will he hire to defend him and how soon?

Continue reading

September 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 507

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal:  Eric Holder’s 7 Worst Actions as Attorney General:

3. Failure to conduct a real, criminal investigation of the IRS targeting of conservative organizations and to enforce the contempt citation issued by the House of Representative against Lois Lerner.

Continue reading

September 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 506

Friday, September 26, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 505

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon:  Politico's Epic Fail in Their Lois Lerner Interview, by Larry O'Connor:

Unrepentant political hack Lois Lerner finally broke her 16-month silence by granting Politico an exclusive interview Monday. She was flanked by not one, but two lawyers running interference for any challenging questions from reporter Rachael Bade.

However, if Politico had been more diligent in approaching their “big get” with a reporter who was well versed in the charges against Lerner and the conflicting narratives that have been floated by the IRS, Department of Justice, and the administration since May 2013, they would have had a fantastic interview with a plethora of challenging moments that might have ended with Lerner’s lawyers shutting down the interview before it could end.

Instead, Lerner had the opportunity to tell her story without the benefit of a real challenge on the facts of the case and how they conflict with the carefully crafted narrative told to Ms. Bade during the headline-grabbing exclusive.

Probably the most glaring example of Politico letting Lerner lie about her involvement in the IRS scandal and the subsequent cover-up comes in one of Lerner’s rhetorical tricks involving the mysteriously crashed hard-drives that contained emails related to the scandal.

Lerner is allowed to pose a rhetorical question that Ms. Bade (and apparently her editors at Politico) cannot or refuse to answer for their readers:

“How would I know two years ahead of time that it would be important for me to destroy emails, and if I did know that, why wouldn’t I have destroyed the other ones they keep releasing?”

We, the reader, never hear Ms. Bade’s answer and her editors never research the issue in any real way to inform us of the facts behind Lerner’s supposed “gotcha” moment.

The truth is divulged in a Wall Street Journal analysis of evidence uncovered via a congressional investigation, not a puff piece bit of rah-rah “journalism.” (emphasis mine)

As to Ms. Lerner’s behavior, consider that House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp first sent a letter asking if the IRS was engaged in targeting in June, 2011. Ms. Lerner denied it. She engineered a plant in an audience at a tax conference in May 2013 to drop the bombshell news about targeting (maybe hoping nobody would notice?). She has subsequently asserted a Fifth Amendment right to silence in front of the only people actually investigating the affair, Congress. Now we learn that her hard drive supposedly defied modernity and suffered total annihilation about 10 days after the Camp letter arrived.

The answer to Lerner’s suggestion is pretty simple. “Ms. Lerner, there is a letter from Chairman Camp asking you about the tea party group targeting in June of 2011. Your hard drives ‘crashed’ ten days after you received that letter. Why are you pretending you didn’t learn about the targeting until 2013”

Continue reading

September 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 504

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  500 Days After IRS Scandal Broke, Reporter Still Refuses To Pay His Taxes, by Patrick Howley:

This week the IRS conservative targeting scandal turned 500 days old. It’s been 500 days since we learned that Lois Lerner’s former agency targeted right-leaning groups applying for nonprofit status and audited ones that already exist. And it has been 500 days since I righteously decided to stop paying my taxes.

500 days later, the IRS still hasn’t produced emails from Lerner and the more than 20 other IRS employees whose computers allegedly crashed, whose Blackberries were thrown away and “upgraded,” and, in Lerner’s case, whose hard drive was “scratched” and destroyed. But we know that Lerner exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservatives with top White House adviser Jeanne Lambrew during the 2012 election cycle. We know that Lerner and her White House-visiting underling Nikole Flax were involved in a “secret research project” involving conservative donor information that was approved by then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller. President Barack Obama first called the whole thing “outrageous.” Then he said there’s “not a smidgen of corruption.”

How much longer will this go on? New IRS chief John Koskinen said that “hard drive crashes continue as we speak.” Lerner is giving softball interviews with Politico about how conservatives (who she once called “assholes”) are trying to ruin her life. The White House has yet to be subpoenaed for the emails it exchanged with Lerner. Same goes for the Department of Justice. ...

500 days ago, we learned that the most powerful tax-collecting agency in the United States has been turned into a political weapon and their enemy is average hardworking American citizens. When people find out such a thing, it tends to lead to feelings of hopelessness. It makes people cynical. Important institutions have been corrupted and there’s nothing we can do about it because they claim that the computers crashed and that’s the end of it? And 500 days later, we still don’t have the emails?

This 500-day mark should be the point where we as Americans decide we’re not going to take it anymore, when we demand answers, when we try to get basic information out of our government so we can have just one tiny fragment of justice and decency and common sense back in our lives. But it doesn’t feel like it. It feels instead like the force of 315 million people shrugging. It feels like a country accepting that we’re circling the drain as a free-market democracy, putting their headphones in and going back to looking down at their not-at-all-private cell phones. 500 days of this. 500 days.

I did not pay my taxes this year. I will not pay my taxes until every single Lois Lerner email is released and the people who planned and carried out this governmental travesty are held accountable. So start watching that clock, John Koskinen, if you think you’re going to get my overdue money, and every day this goes on is another day I’m not giving you a dime (soon it will hit 619 days, one for every hard-earned dollar I “owe.”)

Go ahead and take me to court, federal government. I’m not giving you $619 I need so I can subsidize a fraction of a new salary bonus for some unethical bureaucrat who audited my friends and fellow countrymen. Your corruption cast a hopeless pall over this great but troubled country and its great but jaded people.

I will not pay, IRS. Because America already did.

Continue reading

September 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

60 Minutes: Is It Too Easy to Become a Tax Preparer?

(Click here to view video directly on CBS to avoid interruption caused by blog's refresh rate.)

September 24, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 503

IRS Logo 2The Volokh Conspiracy:  Targeting the Constitution, by Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz (Georgetown):

It is now well known that the IRS targeted tea party organizations. What is less well known, but perhaps even more scandalous, is that the IRS also targeted those who would educate their fellow citizens about the United States Constitution.

According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

Grass-roots organizations around the country, such as the Linchpins of Liberty (Tennessee), the Spirit of Freedom Institute (Wyoming), and the Constitutional Organization of Liberty (Pennsylvania), allege that they were singled out for special scrutiny at least in part for their work in constitutional education. There may have been many more.

The tea party is viewed with general suspicion in some quarters, and it is not difficult, alas, to imagine the mindset of the officials who decided to target tea party organizations for special scrutiny. But federal officers swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It is chilling to think that these same officials who are suspicious of the tea party are equally suspicious of the Constitution itself.

What is most corrosive about this IRS tripwire is that it is triggered by a particular point of view; it is not, as First Amendment scholars say, viewpoint-neutral. It does not include obfuscating or denigrating the Constitution; only those “involved in … educating on the Constitution” are captured by this criterion. This viewpoint targeting potentially skews every national debate about politics or government. And the skew in not strictly liberal; indeed, it should trouble liberals as much as conservatives. The ultimate checks on executive power are to be found in the United States Constitution. Insidiously, then, suppressing those “involved in … educating on the Constitution” actually skews national debate in favor of unchecked executive power. ...

“We the People” do not yet know who first decided to target “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” But there is at least one person who does know. Ironically, though, Lois Lerner, former director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, is making full use of her own constitutional education: “I have been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify …. One of the basic functions of the Fifth Amendment is to protect innocent individuals, and that is the protection I’m invoking today.”

Five years ago, Obama, our constitutional law professor-in-chief, presented his first, ringing Constitution Day proclamation: “To succeed, the democracy established in our Constitution requires the active participation of its citizenry. Each of us has a responsibility to learn about our Constitution and teach younger generations about its contents and history.” Quite so. Perhaps this year, Obama could explain why his IRS would target those who answered this call.

Legal Inusrrection:  Imperial Bureaucrat: Lois Lerner Denies Everything; Media Savvy Lerner Speaks to Politico, But Not Congress, by William Jacobson (Cornell):

The Politico article has been excoriated as a puff piece, and that it is. But it’s more. It’s a reflection of how savvy Lerner is, how she is able to manipulate not just tax exempt approvals, but also the congressional oversight system.

Lerner knows that to a large extent congressional oversight and findings of contempt are empty threats. So Lerner feels comfortable reading a statement professing her innocence while refusing to “testify,” and to spreading her word via Politico while never subjecting herself to proper cross-examination.

Lerner is the Imperial Bureaucrat, secure in the knowledge that she is all but untouchable in the warm embrace of a Democratic administration which sees not a smidgen of corruption despite the facts the administration itself has admitted or produced. ...

It’s said that in jest there is truth. Lerner joked how she hoped for a D.C. office job with a pro-Obama organizing group. ...

Why isn’t Lois Lerner worried now? Why is there no contrition? Why does she feel safe talking to Politico?

Because Lerner knows that the Imperial Bureaucracy will protect one of its Imperial Bureaucrats.

And that there will be a job out there for Lerner with Democratic operative groups once this has all blown over. After all, she has years of experience acting as a Democratic operative.

Reason:  Lois Lerner Claims the IRS Did Nothing Wrong. The Data Say Otherwise.:

Reason

Continue reading

September 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Treasury Department Takes Action to Rein in Tax Inversions

Press and blogosphere coverage:

See also Steven M. Rosenthal (Tax Policy Center), Professor Shay Got It Right: Treasury Can Slow Inversions, 144 Tax Notes 1445 (Sept. 22, 2014).

(Hat Tip: Brian Davis.)

September 23, 2014 in IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 502

IRS Logo 2Politico:  Exclusive: Lois Lerner Breaks Silence, by Rachael Bade: 

Employers won’t hire her. She’s been berated with epithets like “dirty Jew.” Federal agents have guarded her house because of death threats. And she’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending herself against accusations she orchestrated a coverup in a scandal that has come to represent everything Americans hate about the IRS.

Lois Lerner is toxic — and she knows it. But she refuses to recede into anonymity or beg for forgiveness for her role in the IRS tea party-targeting scandal.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lerner said in her first press interview since the scandal broke 16 months ago. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.”

Lerner, who sat down with POLITICO in an exclusive two-hour session, has been painted in one dimension: as a powerful bureaucrat scheming with the Obama administration to cripple right-leaning nonprofits. Interviews with about 20 of her colleagues, friends and critics and a survey of emails and other IRS documents, however, reveal a much more complicated figure than the caricature she’s become in the public eye.

The portrait that emerges shows Lerner is, indeed, fierce, unapologetic and perhaps even tone-deaf when she says things that show her Democratic leanings. She had a quick temper and may have intimidated co-workers who could have helped her out of this mess. It’s easy to see how Republicans have seized on the image of a devilish figure cracking down on conservative nonprofits.

Wall Street Journal:  IRS Apologists, by James Taranto:

Politico landed an exclusive interview with Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the still-unresolved scandal, and to call it a whitewash would be an insult to lime.

Continue reading

September 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tax Court Approves Taxpayer's Use of Predictive Coding to Respond to IRS's Discovery Request, Reducing Costs by 80%

In a case of first impression, the Tax Court has approved a taxpayer's use of predictive coding technology to respond to the IRS's discovery demand for tax information.  Dynamo Holdings LP v. Commissioner, 143 T.C. No. 9 (Sept. 17, 2014):

Predictive CodingRespondent requests that petitioners produce the electronically stored information (ESI) contained on two specified backup storage tapes or, alternatively, that they produce the tapes themselves (or copies thereof). Petitioners assert that it will take many months and cost at least $450,000 to fulfill respondent’s request because they would need to review each document on the tapes to identify what is responsive and then withhold privileged or confidential information. Petitioners request that the Court ... let them use predictive coding, a technique prevalent in the technological industry but not yet formally sanctioned by this Court, to efficiently and economically identify the nonprivileged information responsive to respondent’s discovery request [at a cost of $80,000]. ...

Although it is a proper role of the Court to supervise the discovery process and intervene when it is abused by the parties, the Court is not normally in the business of dictating to parties the process that they should use when responding to discovery. If our focus were on paper discovery, we would not (for example) be dictating to a party the manner in which it should review documents for responsiveness or privilege, such as whether that review should be done by a paralegal, a junior attorney, or a senior attorney. Yet that is, in essence, what the parties are asking the Court to consider--whether document review should be done by humans or with the assistance of computers. ...

Continue reading

September 22, 2014 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tax Court: Couple Failed to Report $30 Million Gift, But Not Liable for Penalty Due to Reliance on Advice From EY, WilmerHale

EYWHIn Cavallaro v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2014-189 (Sept. 17, 2014), the Tax Court held that a Massachusetts couple failed to report a $30 million gift to their sons as a result of misvaluations in a merger of their company with their sons' company, but were not liable for penalties because they reasonably relied on the advice of Ernst & Young (now EY) and Hale & Dorr (now William Cutler Hale & Dorr).

Mr. and Mrs. Cavallaro made the requisite showing of reasonable cause. They had little to no advanced education, including no formal accounting, legal, or business education. Mr. and Mrs. Cavallaro hired advisers who were competent professionals with sufficient expertise to justify reliance. They engaged professionals from a well-known accounting firm and a well-known law firm to structure the tax-free merger of their S corporation, Knight Tool, with their sons' S corporation, Camelot Systems. As discussed above, the professionals initially had differing opinions regarding the ownership of the CAM/ALOT technology, and the issue was explicitly considered by those professionals. The team of advisers eventually structured the merger transaction according to the idea proposed by the Cavallaros' attorney Mr. Hamel at Hale & Dorr -- that is, that on the date of the merger, the CAM/ALOT technology belonged to Camelot and not to Knight (and therefore that no gift occurred) because of a prior transfer. They obtained the valuation report by Mr. Maio based on this assumption and allocated the post-merger stock accordingly.

Continue reading

September 22, 2014 in IRS News, New Cases, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 501

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Congress Moves To Reform The IRS, by Robert W. Wood:

Does the IRS need reforming? Many people think so, and not just people focused on the Tea Party targeting scandal, Lois Lerner and the missing emails. Anyone who has had a seriously bad tax audit or a run-in with an overly aggressive IRS Revenue Agent who many seem to take no for an answer may have a bone to pick.

It still isn’t a happy time for the IRS, and it seemed somehow lackluster when the IRS announced a Taxpayer Bill Of Rights. Many observers yawned. Even so, there is no question but that the IRS has a tough job to do. On the whole, the IRS does an amazingly even-handed job at it too. Yet if you are in the crosshairs, that may not be comforting. And seeing the poor and sometimes evasive testimony for top IRS officials over the last year or so hasn’t been inspiring.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that bills are getting introduced in Congress and some are passing. Well, sort of. The House has passed several recently. All were intended to highlight complaints that the IRS mistreated conservative political groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

Continue reading

September 22, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 500

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal: Stonewall Koskinen: The IRS Commissioner Was Supposed to Clean Up the Mess. Instead, He's Running Interference, by Kimberley A. Strassel:

Nine months have passed since President Obama installed John Koskinen as IRS Commissioner, charged with unearthing the agency's targeting scandal and restoring its credibility. It's about nine months past time to acknowledge that Mr. Koskinen is the problem, not the answer.

The 75-year-old former Fannie Mae executive on Wednesday put in another superficial appearance before House investigators, spent another two hours dodging questions, jabbing at investigators, and excusing the misdeeds of the least-trusted organization in America. This from the guy brought in to clean up the mess—a man presented in confirmation as a "turnaround artist" and "reformer."

The Koskinen fail is now becoming a central political focus, as Republicans and even some Democrats question his tenure. Mr. Obama had declared him someone who "knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances." Where are the sweeping changes? Where's the accountability? When the best the IRS commissioner can promise America is that "whenever we can, we follow the law"—we're in worse shape than nine months ago.

The only thing Mr. Koskinen has seemed remotely interested in turning around is his agency's ugly story-line. He has yet to even accept his agency did anything wrong, spending a March hearing arguing that the IRS didn't engage in "targeting" and claiming the Treasury inspector general agreed. This was so misleading the Washington Post gave Mr. Koskinen "three Pinocchios, " noting the IG had testified to the exact opposite.

Under his management, the agency has ignored and strung out congressional demands for documents and witnesses. Mr. Koskinen waited months to tell Congress the IRS had "lost" the emails of Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center the probe, and arguably only did so because an outside lawsuit revealed that the email record was incomplete. He testified that there were no backup tapes with Lerner emails, but we have since learned there are 760 server drives that may contain copies.

The "reformer" has bristled at every question. He's indignant that investigators might question how the Lerner emails were lost; indignant that they'd ask why her BlackBerry BB.T +0.93% was wiped after their investigation began; indignant that they'd wonder why he didn't tell them about the lost email. We're still waiting for him to show any indignation at the IRS employees who abused the law, and hid the fact.

Continue reading

September 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 499

IRS Logo 2Press Release,  Citing IRS Wrongdoing, Judicial Watch Asks Federal Court to Permit Discovery to Find ‘Missing’ Emails in IRS Abuse Scandal:

Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed a Motion for Limited Discovery in its Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to force the agency to comply with federal court orders to produce information about how “lost and/or destroyed” IRS records relating to the targeting of conservative groups may be retrieved. The motion was filed on September 17, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and requests a hearing for oral argument. The matter is before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan (Judicial Watch v. IRS (No. 1:13-cv-1559)).

Judicial Watch notes that this litigation “presents a rare case in which revelations about crashed hard drives and missing emails, conflicting public reports about backup systems, and material omissions to the Court raise serious questions about the agency’s compliance with FOIA. Limited discovery is needed to answer these questions.”

Continue reading

September 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 19, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 498

IRS Logo 2Government Executive:  IRS Chief Rebuts Claim of Governmentwide Email Backup:

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen on Wednesday responded for the first time to assertions by a legal nonprofit that missing emails relating to the political targeting controversy at the tax agency exist on a governmentwide backup system.

His conclusion: There is no such governmentwide email trove, and confusing media accounts were based on a misunderstanding.

Continue reading

September 19, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)